After praying fervently for a week for her to be resurrected, plans at Bethel Church in Redding, California are underway for a memorial service for Olive Heiligenthal, the 2-year-old daughter of Bethel Music songwriter Kalley Heiligenthal.
In a Saturday statement that was posted to both Bethel Church’s Facebook page and Bethel Music’s Instagram account, the church noted that praying for a miracle of this kind is outside the norm but that God is both God of the reasonable and possible and the unreasonable and impossible.
Olive was pronounced dead by doctors on Dec. 14 after she suddenly stopped breathing. The northern California church and several other worship artists from all over the country subsequently called for prayer that the young girl be raised back to life and added the hashtag #wakeupolive to their social media postings.
“When you are a friend of God and know that He is your heavenly Father, you trust Him and ask for big, outlandish miracles. As a church, we have been contending for, singing about, and witnessing God’s power to save, heal, and deliver for over fifty years. It is normal for us to ask for things, trust Him, and then glorify His name regardless of the outcome. This is what life with the King is all about,” the statement read.
“In this situation, grief has not been avoided, as we have all been grieving from the moment we heard the news. Faith isn’t denial of the facts or of our emotions, it is knowing that God cares and intervenes in the midst of them. Here is where we are: Olive hasn’t been raised. The breakthrough we have sought hasn’t come. With the same heart of confidence in God’s goodness, we receive the comfort of the Good Shepherd as Andrew, Kalley, and Olive’s big sister Elsie, their family, and our church walk together through the valley of the shadow of death (Psalm 23).”
The statement continued that they were moving toward a memorial service and a celebration of Olive’s life and asked for continued prayers for the family. As of Monday, a GoFundMe account that was set up for the Heiligenthal’s has raised approximately $63,000.
As the church and others continued to pray for the child’s resurrection some expressed concern and theological objections to the practice. In a Dec. 18 video update, Bill Johnson, the senior leader at the church, emphasized that biblical precedent exists for such prayers.
“Some have asked, ‘isn’t this interrupting the sovereignty of God?’ And my response is, ‘First of all, we don’t ever want to violate the sovereignty of God. God is sovereign. He chooses what He wants and we cooperate with Him. There’s no question.’ But…